Welland & District SPCA
Welland & District Humane Society
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Our Roots

Preventing Cruelty to Animals since 1886

The story of the SPCA (or more commonly referred to as the Humane Society) in Ontario and the Ontario SPCA Act has a long and interesting history.

It all started in Toronto in November 1886 when a Globe and Mail reporter, J.J. Kelso happened upon two children, a brother and a sister, who had been forced by their parents to beg at least 25 cents per night at the threat of a severe beating. Kelso found shelter for the children and the parents were charged with neglect the next day but the judge threw the case out on the basis that there were no grounds for prosecution.

Severely affected by this, Kelso was by all accounts a true humanitarian in that he envisioned a society free of cruelty and shortly after the November 1886 incident Kelso presented to the Canadian Institute. The title of his presentation was "The necessity of a society for the prevention of cruelty in Toronto" and he called for a non-denominational humane society whose mandate included both animals and children. The Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty (note the lack of "to Animals") was born.

After years of maintaining a vision of a unified society for the prevention of cruelty to animals and children, in 1919 the first Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act was enacted and the line between the Humane Society and the previously formed Children's Aid Society was drawn.

The Ontario SPCA Act laid out the groundwork for organizations in Ontario to become SPCA's and outlined how their Boards of Directors need to be formed and the organizations be managed at the highest level. The Ontario SPCA Act more importantly however spelled out a formula for SPCA's to employ Agents and Inspectors who have the powers of Police Officers to deal with questions of animal cruelty. The Welland & District Humane Society is an affiliate of the Ontario Humane Society and that affiliation gives us the authority to investigate cases of animal cruelty and prosecute offenders when necessary.

Today the Ontario SPCA and the Welland & District SPCA enjoy a close relationship with our brethren at Children's Aid Societies and we continue to fulfill our role in realizing Kelso's dream of a cruelty free society. The Welland & District SPCA has often over the years been the model of what a Humane Society is and today under the direction of our shelter manager, Ted Bettle, we are on the leading edge of what a Humane Society can and should be.


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